The Japanese minister in charge of COVID-19 vaccinations is seen as the most suitable candidate to become the next prime minister, while a female former interior minister has received support for her bid for the top job, media reported on Sunday.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced on Friday that he is stepping down, casting the spotlight on a ruling party leadership election due on September 29, with the winner taking over as prime minister.
Kyodo news agency said nearly a third of respondents to a telephone poll it conducted this weekend said the minister in charge of vaccinations, Taro Kono, was best suited to succeed Suga as prime minister.
Kono has not confirmed his intention to seek the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), but only told reporters that he wanted to consult party members before making a decision.
But broadcaster TBS reported Friday, without citing sources, that Kono planned to run in the wide-open race.
Kono got a potential boost on Saturday when the Nippon News Network reported that Suga would back him up to follow him if he ran.
Kono was named the most qualified person to succeed Suga by 31.9% of respondents in the Kyodo poll, followed by former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba at 26.6% and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at 18. .8%.
Kishida, who has already thrown in his hat to the LDP’s race, said on Sunday that the debate on financing economic stimulus he has proposed must wait until after the general election later this year.
Former Interior Minister Sanae Takaichi is expected to be one of two women hoping to become Japan’s first female prime minister.
She had secured the support of the 20 LDP lawmakers needed to participate in the party’s leadership race, public broadcaster NHK said.
Takaichi had been given a boost by winning the support of Suga’s long-serving predecessor Shinzo Abe, media reported Saturday.
The other woman looking to enter the race is Seiko Noda, another former interior minister, who has also held the women’s empowerment portfolio.
She wanted to run for the LDP presidency in 2015, but did not get the 20 donors needed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)